Announcing the 2018 AAMC Awards winners

These leaders in academic medicine were honored Nov. 4 at Learn Serve Lead 2018 for their outstanding contributions to medical education and the biomedical sciences.
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Credit: Richard Greenhouse

The developer of the rubella vaccine. The creator of a treatment for sickle cell disease. The minds behind a game-changing medical professionalism paradigm. These are some of the recipients of the 2018 AAMC Awards who were honored Nov. 4 at the AAMC awards dinner at Learn Serve Lead 2018: The AAMC Annual Meeting. The AAMC awards recognize medical professionals with outstanding contributions in medical education, biomedical research, clinical care, and community service. Read below about the inspiring work the winners have done to advance the health of all.

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Sylvia R. Cruess, MD, and Richard L. Cruess, MD: 2018 Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education

In their 30-year collaboration, Sylvia R. Cruess, MD, and Richard L. Cruess, MD, have fundamentally altered the medical community's understanding of professionalism. Asserting that professionalism is the basis of a social contract between medicine and society, the Cruesses created professionalism content and assessment tools that are now used around the world. Sylvia, an endocrinologist, served as vice president of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal, and Richard, an orthopedic surgeon, served as dean of the faculty of medicine at McGill University. In summarizing their contributions, a Mayo Clinic professor of medical education said, "There is virtually no aspect of medicine's modern-day professionalism movement they have not led."

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Stanley A. Plotkin, MD: 2018 Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences

World-acclaimed vaccinologist Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, developed the rubella vaccine, which virtually eradicated the disease in the Western Hemisphere and much of Europe. Plotkin also played a central role in the development of the vaccines for polio, rabies, and varicella, and continues to work on vaccines for Lyme disease and cytomegalovirus. Over his career, Plotkin conducted field work in what was then known as the Belgian Congo and served in the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is an emeritus professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and has authored more than 800 publications, including Vaccines, a book that has been called "the bible for the field."

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David A. Asch, MD, MBA: 2018 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation David E. Rogers Award

Over three decades, David A. Asch, MD, MBA, has combined a deep understanding of behavioral economics with a passion for social justice to elevate health care delivery in the United States. As executive director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, Asch continues to develop and study creative approaches to improving patient care. Several of his high-profile studies shed light on ethical issues in medicine, and informed Supreme Court decisions on end-of-life care. He is also the principal investigator of the Individualized Comparative Effectiveness of Models Optimizing Patient Safety and Resident Education (iCOMPARE), the largest NIH-funded randomized trial of medical education, which examines the impact of duty hours among residents on education, sleep, and patient safety.

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Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP: 2018 Herbert W. Nickens Award

Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, helped develop the first FDA-approved treatment for sickle cell disease. His dedication was born of personal tragedy: He saw three friends die of the illness. Today, Rodgers leads the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), where he manages a $2 billion annual budget that funds medical research, training, and educational initiatives. Rodgers has also focused on enhancing diversity in the biomedical workforce. Under his leadership, for example, the NIDDK established a partnership between the NIH and the National Medical Association (NMA) that has funded the participation of hundreds of underrepresented medical researchers and fellows in the annual NMA Convention.

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Mark T. Garry, MD: 2018 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award

Mark T. Garry, MD, is known for his ability to connect with the most vulnerable patients and model empathy for his students. Head of psychiatric education at the Regional Behavioral Health Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, and assistant professor at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine (USDSSM), Garry was honored in 2016 as the USDSSM physician who most inspires medical students. As a member of the Governor’s Task Force for State Suicide Prevention, Garry helped develop protocols for reducing the suicide rate among indigenous populations. He has also worked nationally to enhance access to child and adolescent psychiatry services through telemedicine.

University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine: 2018 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service

The learners, faculty, and staff at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (UPRSOM) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, have worked tirelessly with underserved populations, including the elderly, the working poor, intravenous drug users, and homeless people. Through longstanding local partnerships, the community identifies needs and UPRSOM and community organizations co-create targeted interventions, such as community gardens and curricula to improve children’s health. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, these relationships enabled UPRSOM to respond to the most pressing needs on the island. As donations rushed in, medical students organized a supply command center and sorted themselves into interdisciplinary brigades to work with communities to assess needs and distribute supplies to where they were needed most.

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Robert G. Carroll, PhD: 2018 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

During his more than three decades at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Robert G. Carroll, PhD, has spearheaded major curricular enhancements, including reforms to promote more active and self-directed learning. Now associate dean for medical education, Carroll has long advocated for joint ownership of learning between student and teacher. Carroll also contributed to the creation of the AAMC’s Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency and co-founded the International Association of Medical Science Educators. Carroll has traveled to more than 20 countries, including Sri Lanka and Rwanda, in his efforts to improve medical education standards around the world.

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Bennett Lorber, MD, MACP: 2018 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

Infectious disease specialist, professional painter, and musician Bennett Lorber, MD, MACP, has spent more than 45 years combining his deep love of art and the humanities with medicine. An acclaimed microbiology and immunology lecturer at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Lorber incorporates art and music into his teaching to expand his students’ clinical understanding in memorable ways. He also encourages students to pursue interests outside medicine that will help them stay balanced — and become better doctors. An international authority on human listeriosis, Lorber encourages the students to see patients in their complete context.

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Gail Morrison, MD: 2018 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

Gail Morrison, MD, is a pioneer in medical education: She envisioned and implemented a medical school curriculum at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that transformed how students acquire knowledge, cultivate leadership skills, and develop clinical competencies. Among other changes, Morrison enabled students to access much of the curriculum’s content online at any time. Since the establishment of this innovative curriculum at Perelman, dozens of medical schools have sent delegations to the school to learn about it. Morrison now serves as executive director of the school’s Innovation Center for Online Medical Education.

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Kyle E. Rarey, PhD: 2018 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

Kyle E. Rarey, PhD, grew up on a farm in Indiana and was the first person in his family to attend college. These experiences informed Rarey’s teaching style, which students say combines grit with empathy. Thanks to his motivational tactics emphasizing a commitment to excellence and endurance and his readiness to adopt newer technologies such as 3D learning, Rarey has connected with thousands of students since arriving at University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine in 1984. Course director for clinical human anatomy at UF since 1991 and currently the director of the Center for Anatomical Sciences Education, Rarey has received 32 awards for excellence in teaching.